The Top Ten Series – The Best of 2015
So we’re in the waning hours of 2015, what better time to cast the eye back over the previous years offerings and reminisce about my personal favourites? This year I again attempted to be pretty selective about what I was watching, but since I spent most of the year unemployed I ended up watching more than I thought – I completed 64 TV shows this year!
My general impression of 2015 while compiling this list, is that there were a lot of shows I genuinely enjoyed while watching them, but there aren’t many that have that something extra that makes them particularly memorable. This made selecting a top 10 a bit difficult because so many shows could have potentially made the short-list. In fact a running theme in this years list is that these are shows that were pretty excellent, but had glaring flaws. Still, I’m pretty happy with my final choices – just be aware that the rankings are fairly fluid.
As ever, for this list I take into consideration any show that finished its run in 2015, regardless of when it started – so those carrying over into 2016 won’t be elligible until next year. I’ve also ruled out split-cours shows this year since they’re also continuing on (so no Durarara!! X2 or Concrete Revolutio). As usual my top 10 picks from the years OVAs/Movies/Specials will be in a separate post.
Let’s get started!
10. Rokka no Yuusha – Braves of the Six Flowers (Summer ’15)
Yes the ending was fecking awful, and the more I think about it the shittier it gets, but up until that godawful final revelation, Rokka no Yuusha was an exceptionally good show. Switching tracks from a fantasy adventure show to a tense thriller early on in its run, Rokka no Yuusha delivered a compelling mystery, fraught with twists that made for edge of the seat viewing as we tried to figure out who the Seventh Brave was and what their plans were.
The interesting characters and unique setting all helped really sell the show – although it is a shame there are so many dodgy looking shots and off-model faces over the course of the show. Yes Rokka no Yuusha may have fallen at the final hurdle, but up to that point it was a really intriguing show. I had to include it here.
9. Starmyu – High School Star Musical (Autumn ’15)
I almost called Starmyu a guilty pleasure, but that isn’t really true – I feel not a shred of guilt about enjoying the hell out of this multi-coloured bishie fluff show! Starmyu left me with a wonderful warm fuzzy feeling each week and it ended up being one of my most anticipated weeklies of the Autumn season.
It isn’t a complicated show, rather it is ridiculously simple and uncomplicated, but it is very well put together with loveable characters and strong direction. Sure it was cheesy and a bit soppy at times, but damn did I have fun watching Starmyu – any show that successfully makes me truly care about it’s characters is well deserving of a place on my best of year list.
8. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – Stardust Crusaders (Spring ’14)
I was definitely struggling with the first half of Stardust Crusaders – it wasn’t boring, but it was getting rather repetitive as it seemed to be more concerned with mucking about with ridiculous Stand powers than moving the story forward. The slow pacing kind of killed my hype since it was a real step back from the breakneck pacing of S1.
However the latter half of the series really got me back on board with Jojo’s as the show sorted out what it was doing with Stands, embraced the mentalness and finally got Dio out of storage. The chaos and creativity of the Jojo’s world will always be the main draw of the series, but it was the surprisingly heartfelt moments in Stardust Crusaders that really got me. I think Battle Tendency is still my favourite Jojo’s thus far, but it is easy to see why so many people regard Stardust Crusaders so highly. Bring on Part 4, I don’t want this Bizarre Adventure to end just yet!
7. Blood Blockade Battlefront (Spring ’15)
So the long awaited finale ended up being a bit of a mess and my high opinion of Blood Blockade Battlefront has cooled off a bit since it aired, but it remains a high point of the year. I had a lot of fun with nearly every episode of BBB, and when it was at the top of its game it delivered some of the finest episodes of anime I’ve seen.
The madcap energy of the show, the fun setting and the wacky characters are all things I absolutely adore, but there is no denying that BBB runs hot & cold. There is a great deal of style here, but no real substance to really ground it. The attempt at a running plot with Black & White’s story was a bit of a bust since they didn’t get a lot of development. However I still think Blood Blockade Battlefront was an excellent show and there was no way I could leave it off my list.
6. Death Parade (Winter ’15)
Death Parade was a bit of a frustrating watch. It would do so many things right, but then get a bit over excited and do something dumb that soured the whole story before hand. However it delivered some excellent scenes of high stakes death games, a brilliant OP and the ice-staking scene towards the end was just perfection.
Death Parade was a show with a wonderful concept, but it just couldn’t fully deliver on it. Every story seemed to have some ludicrous twist fired into the end that completely undermined the more subtle storytelling and character work that went before it. However in spite of this, Death Parade remains one of my highlights of the year, so I had to include it here.
5. Garo: Honoo no Kokuin (Autumn ’14)
A carry-over from the exceptional Autumn 2014 season now. Garo was a wonderfully theatrical series, filled with complex characters, slow burning storytelling and great action set-pieces. I loved the dark medieval setting and the grand scale of the story, but most of all I loved the characters. Leon’s rocky relationship with his father, Herman’s own chequered past and Alfonso’s personal journey, all made for compelling viewing.
It didn’t have the best ending to a show, but was still a very satisfying watch. Pity the sequel had none of eye-catching animation or intriguing characters that made this season of Garo so excellent.
4. Kuroko’s Basketball S3 (Winter ’15)
Yes here is the magical BL basketball show I have nothing but love for. Season 3 of Kurobas saw the conclusion of the Winter Cup arc and gave us an extended flashback to the Generation of Miracle’s Teiko days – I loved every second of it.
I may make light of Kurobas for being the magical BL basketball show, but it is an exceptionally good shounen sports show at its core. The games are exciting, you really care about the characters and there is no denying that a lot of care has been put into the production of the show. It has everything I want from a shounen sports show! But it was the satisfying conclusion to the Winter Cup that really made this season worth watching; the emotional pay-off is the main reason it is here – it was magical.
3. Sound! Euphonium (Spring ’15)
The more I reflect back on Sound! Euphonium the better it gets – it was a fantastic series. There was always some trepidation when I was watching it that KyoAni would suddenly try to turn it into K-ON! 3 at some point, so I never really completely relaxed. That feeling is gone in hindsight, and now I can safely say that Sound! Euphonium was one of the finest shows I watched this year.
The grounded feel, the relatable characters, the sheer attention to detail that immediately transported me back to my own days playing brass in a concert band – everything added up to a really immersive watch and I’m really looking forward to the second season.
2. Gatchaman Crowds Insight (Summer ’15)
Gatchaman Crowds Insight was one of the sequels that really delivered this year, but it was far from perfect (just like its first season really). It has a very simplistic view of politics and didn’t really allow for the more complex nuances of social interactions, but it was still refreshing to see a show even attempt to address the idea of mob mentality and media influence. Gatchaman had a lot of great ideas, and it did a pretty good job over all of telling the story it wanted to in an entertaining fashion, but it is a rather whitewashed, simplistic take on some very complicated events.
Still Gatchaman Crowds Insight does a lot of things I liked. In addition to being just very appealing aesthetically (I love the art style and music), the additions to the cast were interesting, Tsubasa and Gel Sadra forming a nice counterpart to Hajime and Berg Katze. However I think more could have been done with Rui & Rizumu Suzuki’s part of the story, they got a bit sidelined very early on. Still it was one of the shows I was consistently excited for week to week – definitely a highlight of the year.
1. SHIROBAKO (Autumn ’14)
It may have finished way back at the start of the year, but nothing came anywhere near stealing the crown from Shirobako – it is the one show on this list that didn’t move at all when compiling the ranking.
Shirobako was one of the only shows I gave a 10 to this year. It is a show that is clearly made by people who adore anime, and they’ve poured all their love, hopes and frustration into this series. It is abundantly clear that the staff have pulled on their own personal experiences in the industry when making Shirobako, as while it is a very optimistic show overall, there is definitely enough melancholy and struggle present to make it feel realistic.
Shirobako was an exceptionally rewarding show to watch, educational and entertaining it is a series all fans of anime should see. Without doubt my favourite show of the year.
So those are my top picks of 2015! Honourable mentions to Oregairu S2, Parasyte, Gakkou Gurashi, Yowamushi Pedal and Gundam Build Fighters Try. Part two with the OVAs/Movies/Specials will be up in the next few days (once I write the thing).
So a fairly average year over all – definitely plenty of worthwhile shows, but not many instant classics. Lets hope 2016 is a year filled with quality treats!